Gun Owners

What you don’t know, can hurt you and more lessons learned

Gun Owner Education is Key – US Law Shield Writers’ Symposium Review

Fred Mastison

The call went out; I was invited to attend a writer’s symposium covering the legal core of dealing with deadly encounters. U.S. Law Shield is in the process of launching its own magazine and I along with a handful of other serious writers were invited to listen and interact with a team of their best Independent Program Attorneys. I was soon on a flight to Houston which would lead to one of the most interesting and educational events I have ever taken part in.

The After-The-Bang Presentation Stood Out!

Over the span of two days, I was able to listen to seasoned attorneys talk about the intricacies of dealing with deadly encounters and firearms. While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the topic, I soon found myself scribbling pages of notes. Gun owner education is vitally important. The topics were wide-ranging but one that seized my attention was, “What to do After the Bang?” This session was presented by David Katz and James Phillips of Katz & Phillips PA. This session touched on points that every gun owner in the country should understand. Once again, while I have tried to educate myself on this corner of self-defense, I found myself taking notes on points I had never considered. Some of the points that stood out the most were that the 911 call starts recording before the operator even picks up. Also, you should speak to your attorney away from the police or any other people on the scene. Discussions overheard on the call are not protected by the attorney-client privilege. They also went into great detail on what you should and more importantly should not say once the police arrive. David Katz shared, “To some, not answering questions is seen as a kind of admission of guilt. That’s not true. You have a constitutional right to remain silent and it is a good idea to use that right. The words you use can mean the difference between being convicted of a crime versus possibly not even being arrested.” One of the most profound things he shared though was, “While people have a right to remain silent, many people don’t seem to have the ability to do it.” Like other U.S. LawShield attorneys, Katz has extensive resources available to members and the public in general. One I recommend is the “Surviving an Active Shooter” webinar that can be found on his website –

Gun Owners’ Education is Not Just Knowing the Law

The group got a detailed look at several high-profile cases in a presentation by Gilbert Ambler of Amber Law Offices. He shared the lessons learned from cases across the country where a person used a firearm against another person. Each case was broken down and dissected into what went well and where mistakes were made. It was a good lesson on what not to do. (Webmaster note: a similar webinar is available by clicking here) Following that theme, Drew Eddy of Richards Carrington discussed, “The Laws of Self-Defense.” This session was interesting because it laid out the general basics of what is considered self-defense. It dispelled many myths and touched on the fact that many states differ in their interpretation. The lesson I learned here was that we are all ultimately responsible to know what the law is in our jurisdiction. (Webmaster Note: to learn about Florida’s self-defense laws, click here)

New Jersey – Gun Owners’ Nightmare Come True

A session that left me almost angry was one presented by attorney Evan Nappen. The name of his session was, “New Jersey! How Bad Does It Get?” This was a session dedicated to what can only be described as a tyrannical overreach by the state of New Jersey regarding gun laws. While I know New Jersey is not a gun-friendly state, I had no idea that they are as actively anti-gun as they are. He shared the absolute insanity of New Jersey gun laws and highlighted that they are written by people that have no idea what they are talking about. Nappen is fighting the good fight however and is doing his best to protect his clients from the insanity of a state government gone rogue.

Gun Owners Must Realize TV is not Real Life – Anatomy of a Murder Trial

This session was followed by “Anatomy of a Murder Trial with the Act of Self-Defense.” This was presented by attorneys Emily Taylor and Edwin Walker of Walker Taylor Law. What I quickly discovered in this session was that the legal shows we see on television bear little resemblance to the reality of real trials. The jury selection process alone would take an entire season of a television show. It was also enlightening to learn just how long the process can take.

Gun Owners Better Realize that the System is Rigged Against the Gun-Owner

Attorney Matt Kilgo of Kilgo Law offered us a session called, “The Legal System is Rigged.” The name of the session caught the attention of all the writers. Kilgo proceeded to explain that as a general rule, the legal system is not friendly to firearms even in self-defense situations. While the title was designed to be eye-catching, the session did bring home the fact that it will not be an easy day should you end up in the legal system.

Use of Force Decision Making

The last session we enjoyed was, “Evaluating Use of Force Decision-Making” presented by Von Kliem Director, Consulting Division, The Force Science Institute. This was by far the most technical session in that it explored what drives decision-making in lethal force encounters. It left everyone considering their own decision-making process.

Gun Owners Should NOT “Go It Alone”

Mix into these great sessions, a couple of intriguing discussions during dinners and it was an intensive look at the world of firearms law. I found it to be absolutely riveting and educational. We all soon had to pack up our notebooks however and head back. As I sat on the plane digesting what I had just experienced a reoccurring thought echoed in my head. Dealing with the legal side of a shooting yourself is a fool’s errand. There is no way anyone can be prepared for the challenges you will face. While I have always advocated that people keep an attorney in their circle, it beat home that a program like U.S. LawShield is a must for serious gun owners. Protecting yourself legally is an integral part of the self-defense mindset. You should not go it alone.

This article was written by Fred Mastison

Fred Mastison Bio:

Fred Mastison is a professional firearm, combatives instructor and executive protection provider and trainer. He is an adjunct instructor for the National Association of Chiefs of Police and is also a reserve police officer. He has been training in firearms and close quarter combatives for over three decades. He holds 17 separate state law enforcement course certifications around the U.S. and is a certifying instructor for law enforcement firearms and defensive tactics instructors. He is also a national magazine contributor and has written over 800 articles for 27 different magazines


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